Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘planning

Just Riffing

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‘Twas the night before Halloween, when all thro’ the house… I’m pretty sure creatures were stirring, because I could hear them in the walls. I’m hoping we don’t get any neighbors stopping by for treats tomorrow night, because I haven’t hunted down any of Cyndie’s hidden candy stashes and she is now out-of-town.

I drove her to the airport in the early darkness this morning to catch a plane for a visit with Dunia and family in Guatemala. Last night, instead of packing for her trip, she was cleaning the house, vacuuming, making me food for the week, …you know, mentally preparing for being away.

I interrupted her vacuuming and mentioned that I could do that after she was gone, in case she might better spend her time getting bags ready for departure. I’m a little surprised she didn’t start cleaning out the junk drawer in the kitchen, too.

It wouldn’t be the first time.

Those of you who are chuckling over this probably have a sense of recognition for this strange trait some people have, that they start organizing or cleaning drawers or closets that rarely get attention until the waning hours before leaving on a trip. What is that about?

The chickens and I benefitted from this pattern yesterday, when the normal evening chores unexpectedly blossomed into a grand chicken pasty-butt cleaning operation. I sure didn’t see that coming, but it will be nice for me that I shouldn’t have to deal with the possible negative consequences of plugged up chicken bottoms while Cyndie is away.

The things we do for our animals.

Cleaning up poopy butts was a nice distraction from the daily news, except that it wasn’t that different from what I suffered hearing about on the drive home from work yesterday. Most of what fills the headlines is pretty sh**ty lately.

It makes me dream of what it might be like if all the news organizations were to magically agree to completely ignore the person whose name I prefer not uttering for maybe five business days in a row. Imagine that. Just fill the time talking about whatever subject would bug him the most, without ever once making reference to him. And the louder he would try to shout for attention by his tweeting fits, the more distance the journalists could put between themselves and him.

Just ignore him until he goes away. But keep an eye on the cash register. Something tells me all the bluster and blather is a smoke screen to distract us from the siphoning of the public coffers that is going on. Check his pockets before he leaves.

Hey, speaking of my drive home yesterday, I had a lucky break by the weird coincidence of leaving for home earlier than usual after having needed to make an unexpected visit a customer site. As I got close to the border with Wisconsin, traffic came to a sudden halt.

I had spotted an alert on the electronic message board over the freeway warning of a crash ahead, so I was prepared to bale out at the exit to Hudson just after crossing the St. Croix River. If I had left at my normal time, the backup would have left me on the Minnesota side of the bridge.

Timing is everything.

Okay, that’s it. Now I’m on my own (with a little animal care help from some local hands in the a.m. hours of my work days) for a couple weeks. Let’s see how long I can keep my happy face¬†on. ūüôā

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Happening Now

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I’ve witnessed the evidence in my lifetime.

The trend is undeniable. Feel free to argue the cause.

I claim human activity is responsible.

For the time being, at least we still have trees.

I need to plant more trees.

I heard an ominous story on news radio during my commute home yesterday that highlighted the concerns of owning animals at a time when growing hay to feed them is getting harder to do successfully.

We have hay in our shed for this winter, but future years are not guaranteed. It pains me that our green grass is too rich for granting full-time access to our horses. We end up feeding them hay year-round.

It’s awkward. Like being adrift in the ocean, surrounded by water that you can’t drink.

It will be tough if we reach a point where there isn’t enough hay to feed all the grazing livestock.

It’s not a single issue calamity at risk, though. There are plenty of other aspects of the warming planet that are simultaneously having an impact. I’d sure hate to be in the insurance industry now that we are experiencing waves of increasing intensity severe weather events.

I can’t figure out how they will be able to cover the ever-increasing expenses for claims from the devastation of storm after storm.

I wonder what it will be like here six years from now. We don’t currently have a long-range plan worked out for the ranch. The initial improvements we put in place upon arrival have sufficed for a few years now. There isn’t a lot more we need to do beyond maintaining the buildings and grounds as they are.

Simply responding to the ongoing climate slide may become our main challenge.

I suppose I could always focus on marketing our paradise as a place to Forest Bathe.

I really should be planting more trees.

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Written by johnwhays

October 25, 2018 at 6:00 am

Early Success

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Part of me is hesitant to claim success about a recent transplanted tree, well, trees, but we have decided to enjoy it while it lasts. The truth really won’t be revealed until next summer, as to whether the four oaks we hastily decided to dig up and move out in the open field beyond the paddock ultimately survive the transplantation.

In the weeks since we moved them, these four oak trees have barely showed a symptom of shock. Now they are displaying the best of fall color, just as if nothing had happened to disrupt normal routine.

I don’t know if this apparent good health is a valid indicator of the overall success of our bold plan. I am prepared to discover otherwise next spring, but for now, we are tickled to see the normal fall behavior playing out.

If these work out, I will definitely be emboldened to do more of this to expand the range of oak trees on our property in the years ahead. There are so many little volunteer sprouts that show up¬†every spring¬†where they aren’t wanted or can’t be allowed to grow to maturity, we always have many opportunities from which to choose.

It is part of a long game, dreaming someday of tall trees that will provide natural cooling shade under which our horses can benefit.

It all starts with acorns and involves a little effort to nurture young trees in new locations.

Here’s hoping for success.

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Written by johnwhays

October 14, 2018 at 9:59 am

Inspiring Start

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Cyndie snapped a shot of the morning sky yesterday, shortly after the sun broke the horizon. It provided inspiration for our continued efforts to accomplish the most possible while weather was favorable and our energy held out.

With the temperature climbing as fast as the sun, I hopped on the diesel tractor to mow with the brush cutter. Knocking down the tall grass along the hay-field and back pasture fence lines was a minor goal that made it convenient to achieve a major goal.

I haven’t cut the drainage ditch along our southern border all summer, so it was seriously overgrown. It’s a chore that requires enough days without rain for the ditch to completely dry out. Yesterday was perfect.

It is late enough in the summer that I’m hoping I won’t need to bother with it again before winter. It’s a great feeling to have the ditch looking ready for whatever nature dishes out, be it heavy rain this fall or spring runoff next year.

While I was out there, I also mowed around the gazebo and along the alleyway between the paddocks and the arena. I parked the tractor and got back inside half way through the first quarter of the Vikings/Packers football game. Too bad those few hours ended without a victory, despite the last chance to kick for a win.

Cyndie came in a short time later, after using the power trimmer to cut the grass beneath the fence.

Little did we know what inspiration yet lie ahead for us.

With Jackie registering her intent to move out, Cyndie opened up interviews for new candidates to do some house & animal sitting for times we would like to get away. Two appointments were scheduled for the afternoon.

In a blink, it seems we are back to having options for coverage that will allow us occasional weekends away from our paradise. Good thing we are refining our landscape management skills to get a month’s worth of work done in one weekend.

That’s what it will take if we continue to be away as many times as Cyndie shows planned in her calendar.

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Written by johnwhays

September 17, 2018 at 6:00 am

Final Donation

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Some people are uncomfortable focusing on death before that grim reality is unavoidably forced upon them. I don’t have that problem, although I will admit to a passing curiosity over the risk of “thinking” something so fatal into occurring.

The end of life subject has come up for me enough times recently that I have now chosen to take action to put in place a plan for my body when I die. Thanks to my sister, Judy, I learned that donating my body to science provides a no cost option for cremation.

I interpret that as a bonus to the even more valuable service of contributing to the advancement of medicine by donating my body for science after I am no longer living in it.

Making a whole body donation is one of the most compassionate funeral alternatives available. When you donate your body to science, Science Care can eliminate and cover all of the costs. With the rising costs of living and final arrangements, whole body donation can be a real blessing not only for medical researchers but for family members.

http://www.sciencecare.com/free-cremation-benefitting-the-community/

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After a quick internet search for information, I chose to register with Science Care. Having already opted to be an organ donor when getting my driver’s license renewed, it was nice to see that Science Care is prepared to work together with other organizations to fulfill both possibilities.

It all happens in a sequence.

The last step in the registration for donation is to inform my family so that they will be aware of my wishes and know who to contact at the time of my death. What better way than right here in this space. So, Cyndie, kids, and my siblings, take note.

When I say I want to donate my body to science, it’s not just idle talk. I mean it.

And, I have taken the steps to facilitate that process, just in case I don’t live long enough that science will have finally perfected that suspended animation thing where our bodies are kept alive until some future generation has mastered a way to stay healthy forever.

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Written by johnwhays

July 22, 2018 at 6:00 am

Intentional Community

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Wow. Similar endings in both World Cup games yesterday, in that, the final results were determined by penalty kicks. I only got to see parts of both games, due to a special meeting of the Wildwood Lodge Club association members in the morning, and then our trip home in the afternoon, but what I saw was highly entertaining.

There is some work needing to be done to maintain the soundness of the aging lodge building up at the lake, which will require significant financial commitment. At the same time, after over 50-years of existence, the association is facing the aging out of the first generation. Financial burdens are beginning to fall on the multiple sibling families that make up the second generation members.

We are facing some big decisions as an intentional community, about what the six expanding families’ long term wishes and dreams are for the future of this communal vacation paradise.

I walked portions of the property in the early morning on Saturday and captured the some of the quiet beauty.

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I’ve written about Wildwood before, but to summarize for newer readers, it is an association of now 6 families that share a central lodge building, play field, tennis court, gorgeous beach, and boats. When the old fishing resort was purchased by 11 families in the 1960s, it was a number of small, mostly primitive small shacks surrounding the main lodge.

Moms and kids would spend most of the summer there, with dads coming from the Twin Cities for the weekends. Families would rotate cabins throughout the summer and often dined communally around the main fire pit in the central “triangle” on their peninsula of Round Lake.

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In the 1980s, when the member numbers had dropped to seven families, the maturing clans elected to split the property into separate plots in order to allow for enhancements to the living accommodations, while also providing equity for the investment by individual families.

Meanwhile, all the traditions and celebratory community activities from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and for a decade or so, New Year’s Eve, played out with emphatic zest.

It was intentional community at its best. Kids and dogs, and all the good and bad that happens with outdoor space, a lake, and time, became the joys and concerns of all. With this precious group, there were always a lot more joys than there ever were concerns.

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Saturday, in celebration of the mid-week 4th-of-July holiday this year, we broke out the red “bats” shirts and the blue “mice” shirts to split the community into two arbitrary teams for a mostly typical array of challenges for dominance.

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There was a relay race, water-balloon toss, three-legged sack race, shoe kick, watermelon eating contest, and finally, a water scrum to move a greased watermelon across the opponent’s line.

The day of games was topped off by a grand feast in the lodge for dinner, all prepared, served, and serviced by a combined effort of member families, kids included (to varying degrees of success).

Now the community is needing to address what the next version of Wildwood Lodge Club might be?

There are many variables involved, and few, if any, right or wrong decisions to be made. That presents us with a significant challenge.

If Wildwood is to remain some version of its former self, it will involve a big commitment from all the members.

In my mind, big commitments are what it takes for “intentional communities” to survive and to thrive.

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Written by johnwhays

July 2, 2018 at 6:00 am

No Mow

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I leave for vacation today whether I am ready, or not. I’ve got it covered well enough… I’m sort of ready.

Yesterday was my¬†final day of work before departure, and I tried in vain to get everything completed to my satisfaction. I had hoped to leave early enough to fit in one last cutting of the lawn¬†when I got home. I didn’t hit either target.¬†I didn’t get all the work done before I had to go, and¬†I left work later than I wanted.

As a consolation prize, I was going to get the mowing completed so I wouldn’t have anything that demanded my attention this morning except for finding and packing everything I want to have for the Tour of Minnesota bike trip.

It should come as no surprise that I couldn’t get the mowing done, either.

After a mere 2 or 3 minutes into the job, the power to the mower stopped abruptly. I thought it was possibly the seat interlock, but nothing I did re-enabled the PTO to engage. Then I spotted the belt was completely loose from the engine pulley.

Closer inspection revealed the idler spring had broken.

Really? After 12 hours of operation? This is how new products get a bad review.

I couldn’t find a replacement spring in stock anywhere near us. Everyone was happy to order one for me, but that wouldn’t solve my problem. The grass is long, now. I’m leaving home today for a week of vacation.

I thought maybe I could steal a spring from the old mower, but it didn’t have one matching the size I needed. The mowing did not happen. Unless I get lucky and find one in stock this morning at the one place I couldn’t check last night (because they had already closed for the day), this will be another thing I am leaving behind for others to deal with while I’m gone.

So, I’m sort of ready to leave my responsibilities behind for a week, and I’m sort of packed.

I would venture to say this is the least prepared I’ve been of all of these bike trips I have done over the years. I wish I could say that previous experience allows me to prepare less, but I don’t believe that is the case.

Right now, it feels like previous experience is informing me that I will soon be missing the comforts of home.

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Why don’t I ever take a vacation where I just stay home and relax for a week?

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Written by johnwhays

June 15, 2018 at 6:00 am